Lake Township trustees for April 22

By MARY ANN KANNAM CantonRep.com staff writer

LakeLogoColorLAKE TWP. —Lake Township trusteesApril 22 meeting

KEY ACTION  Announced that the new Lake Township Recycle Center is open.

DISCUSSION  The new center is located slightly to the east of the previous recycle center and the township garage at 1499 Midway St. NW. Signs will direct township residents to the new larger center that includes a paved lot, fencing and security cameras. The center will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.

OTHER ACTION

  • Declared a nuisance exists at 12980 Grange Ave. NW because of “garbage, refuse and other debris.” If the owner does not clean up the property within seven days of receiving a certified notice, the township will hire someone to do the work and put the cost on the owner’s tax duplicate.
  • Declared that nuisances exist at 3393 Edison St. NW and 3407 Edison St. NW because of “junk motor vehicles,” according to the resolution.
  • Granted a request from the director of the Hall of Fame Senior Olympics to use the track and surrounding area at Lake Township Community Park for a 5k run on June 22.

UP NEXT  Meet at 6:30 p.m. May 13 at Township Hall.

Canton Charge’s Alex Jensen is D-League Coach of the Year

cantonCharge
CANTON —The Canton Charge’s Alex Jensen is the NBA Development League’s Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year.

In his second season as a head coach on any level, the 36-year-old Jensen led the Charge to the playoffs for the second straight season. Canton went 30-20 in the regular season and won the East Division title before Jensen’s banged-up squad lost to a loaded Tulsa 66ers team 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Jensen, a former player for the late Rick Majerus at Utah, spent four years as an assistant coach for Majerus at Saint Louis University before the Charge hired him prior to the 2011-12 season. Taking over what was basically an expansion franchise, Jensen led the Charge to a 27-23 record and a first-round upset of No. 2 seed Springfield in the playoffs. The Charge fell a game short of the D-League championship series, losing to Austin 2-1 in the semifinals.

Including playoffs, Jensen is 61-48 in his two seasons as Charge head coach.

The award is named after Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson, who won three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and Seattle SuperSonics. Johnson was in his third season coaching in the D-League when he passed away in 2007 at the age of 52 from a heart attack.

Recent Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year winners

2008-09 Quin Snyder, Austin Toros

2009-10 Chris Finch, Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2010-11 Nick Nurse, Iowa Energy

2011-12 Eric Musselman, Los Angeles D-Fenders

2012-13 Alex Jensen, Canton Charge

Hankook, Uniontown Ohio Based R&D Center, Drives Tire Maker

by Mike McNulty

hankook_tireUNIONTOWN, Ohio—Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. was a relatively small tire manufacturer in 1992 when it decided to open its first overseas research and development center in Akron.

That proved to be an important step for the ambitious tire maker. Even back then, it had its sights set on climbing the tire rankings globally. Though it had a long way to go, it figured that a research center located in a key area of America eventually would help it gain ground on U.S. soil. It was right.

The Akron R&D center, now located in Uniontown and the only one the firm operates in North America, has proven to be a key driving force in helping to expand Wayne, N.J.-based Hankook Tire America Inc. and its South Korean parent over the last 21 years.

It also plays a pivotal role within the company’s R&D global network.

Hankook was much, much smaller in 1992, but was growing, said Thomas Kenny, the company’s new vice president of technology and head of the Hankook Akron Technical Center. The company had one factory when he joined the firm in 1994. It has added six since then.

Long-time industry veteran Ray Labutta was in charge of the center when it opened. He spearheaded the move from small quarters to a much larger facility that Hankook built in 1996 in Uniontown, located on the outskirts of Akron. Labutta recently retired after serving for 20 years in the post Kenny now holds.

Before taking over his present position, Kenny spent 14 years in the center’s tire development sector and four years as manager of tire development and engineering.

He said Hankook showed great foresight in 1992 when it added the center. He pointed out that the firm needed a presence in North America to build its business outward.

It is one of several major moves the company made in the last 20 years that has vaulted it from the back to the front of the pack.

“We’re a critical part of Hankook,” Kenny said. “The company has been growing by about 15-20 percent a year and wants to be in the top five by 2020.” Hankook had global sales in 1992 of $759 million and posted 2012 sales of $6.26 billion, with an estimated $1.4 billion of that coming from North America.

He came on board two years before the center was moved to the sprawling 48,000-sq.-ft. Uniontown facility. “We had 15 people working for us then. Today we have 40.”

The center primarily handles tire development for the North American market. The majority of that work focuses on original equipment fitments in the U.S., Kenny said. “We also have research and test departments and a fully functioning lab that develops compounds for use in this market as well.”

Hankook earmarks about 5 percent of its annual sales toward R&D, “so there is a large commitment,” he said. “Our center in Akron plays a key role in several areas for the company and is vital for the support of our OE customers and the development of new technologies for the future.”

Byeong Jin Lee, who in January was named president of Hankook Tire America Corp., agreed, calling the Akron Technical Center “one of our company’s most valuable resources.”

Kenny, who has more than 30 years experience in the tire industry, is responsible for overseeing the general operation of the facility. His primary responsibility is to facilitate effective communications between the center and the other Hankook technical centers in other parts of the world.

Because many programs are not global, he said, it is critical that all branches of the company operate effectively between the various centers, including headquarters, R&D and manufacturing.

At the Akron technical facility, “it’s important to have the right people doing the right jobs with the right tools,” Kenny said. “It’s the difference between sitting on the couch and yelling at the coach … and being the coach.”

Hankook operates three other R&D centers: a primary operation in Daejon, South Korea, and regional sites in Germany and China.

The company is building another R&D center in South Korea that is twice the size of the present operation in the country.

It plans to maintain some research operations at the current center.

Because the new R&D site “is still many months away from completion, it is not possible to say exactly what will stay at the current facility and what will be relocated,” according to Kenny.

Hankook built the Uniontown building with growth in mind, he said.

It uses advanced engineering concepts and new compounding technologies to develop products aimed at U.S. driving conditions and plays a key role in accumulating new technologies that meet international standards for Hankook’s R&D network, he said.

It also does some research on OE products for overseas markets, Kenny said.

The center handles a good deal of testing and research on a variety of projects and products. “Though we test vehicles and tires, our only focus is tires,” he said.

An auto maker works closely with the facility’s staff to come up with the proper tire for a vehicle, Kenny said.

In-house software is used to design the tire, and engineers at the center come up with a prototype that is built at one of Hankook’s production factories or—much less often—at its pilot manufacturing plant at the main R&D center in South Korea, he said.

The information is sent to the firm’s South Korean technical center, and tires are manufactured and shipped back to the Akron site for inspection and testing. It can take a few development cycles to come up with the right tire.

Ohio’s new license plate design now available

new Ohio LicenseCOLUMBUS: Ohio’s new license plate design is out.

The state is phasing out its old license plate and offering the new design starting Monday. It’s called “Ohio Pride” and its background features 46 slogans describing the Buckeye State.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Ohio Gov. John Kasich went to the Columbus College of Art and Design to recruit students to help design the new plates.

Ohioans voted on the slogans, which include “America’s Heartland,” “Underground Railroad” and “With God All Things Are Possible.”

The old “Beautiful Ohio” plates will be available for purchase until June 30, or until they run out. Those replaced the “Sunburst” plates over a six-month period in 2010.

Jackson Township police chief put on leave again

Jackson Police ChiefJACKSON TWP. —The township’s police chief has again been put on administrative leave, the second time in four months.

A one-sentence letter from Administrator Marilyn Lyon dated Thursday states that Police Chief David Zink would remain on paid administrative leave until further notice.

No reason for the action was given in the letter. Trustee James Walters declined comment Thursday, citing personnel issues.

Neither Zink nor his attorney, Robert J. Tscholl, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. Zink, who joined the Police Department in 1986 and became chief in March 2010, earns $91,271 a year.

In November, trustees put Zink, 49, on administrative leave after a female township officer accused him of sexual harassment. Trustees then suspended the chief for one month after an out-of-county investigator determined that Zink, who is married, had made multiple unwanted sexual advances during the past five years toward the female officer he supervises. The chief, who has repeatedly denied the accusations, returned to work Feb. 1.

Since at least early March, agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation have interviewed women who interacted with Zink, asking them questions about whether his actions toward them or other women had ever been inappropriate. It’s unclear whether the state’s investigation involves the same female officer who made the complaint against Zink in November.

Jill DeGreco, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office which serves as the legal arm for BCI, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. BCI provides criminal investigative services to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies upon request.

Jeff Durbin: Life on a farm, strong work ethic shaped the man

By Todd Porter CantonRep.com staff writer

lakeFootballJeffLAKE TWP. —Everyone wonders where their place is in the world. It took Jeff Durbin a few years — 34 of them to be exact — but he found his in little Uniontown, Ohio, in 1985.

Durbin grew up on a farm in Danville, just north of Columbus. There isn’t much to do in Danville. Still, Durbin doesn’t complain.

He grew up the youngest of seven children. His father worked for the gas company and farmed the land. His mother worked in a small factory in town.

“Danville is a place for turkeys,” Durbin said. “Mom worked in a dressing plant there and she helped on the farm. My parents were workers and instilled that in all of us. It was a great experience for me. We never had a boring day. Ever.”

Durbin has built up the football program over the years the same way he learned to farm. He took his time. He cultivated the land. He worked hard. He respected players. He didn’t just get to know the community in Lake, he became a part of it.

Wednesday afternoon he told Lake athletic director Bruce Brown he was ready to spend time traveling with his wife Teresa. Durbin has acquired a taste for wine and enjoys visiting wineries in Northeast Ohio.

After 35 years of coaching football, Teresa finally gets her husband back in the falls. Durbin is only 61. He’s healthy. He can enjoy life … for the next year or two.

Maybe, he said, he would get back into football.

Selfishly, though, Stark County high school football lost a piece of its fabric. When a man spends 27 years coaching in one place, cultivating young people to become so much more than high school football memories, he leaves behind a void.

Likely in the next few years, Central Catholic head coach Lowell Klinefelter will retire, too. Klinefelter has been the Crusaders’ head coach for 40 years.

Combined, that’s 63 years of head coaching experience.

There is a great pressure on Brown, Lake Principal Kevin Tobin and Superintendent Jeff Wendorf to find not just any replacement for Durbin — who wants to fill those shoes — but the right replacement.

“I would say they are institutions,” Tobin said. “Someone like Lowell and Jeff … I push young coaches toward those guys. I hope young people will continue to look to them as mentors.”

Coaching, even in the high school level, has changed. Many young coaches aren’t looking to become fabrics of the communities they inherit as much as they look to them as a steppingstone.

“That’s one of the things that’s most disheartening,” Tobin said. “Coaches are looking at their own pieces and parts as opposed to we’re all in this together. You would go to a Stark County coaches’ meeting 30 years ago and the camaraderie was second to none. We’ve lost a little bit of that.”

Maybe it never comes back. Maybe coaches such as Klinefelter and Durbin, who came from parents who understood spots on a roster and, more importantly in life, were earned and not given, are a breed from yesteryear.

Over the last several years, Lake has built one of the finest Division II stadiums in the state without taxpayer money. They held fundraisers. Durbin recycled cans when he first started.

“We built that with fundraisers and sweat equity,” Durbin said.

It was common to find Durbin pushing a wheelbarrow through the stadium during the summer when the press box was being built.

Career stories such as Durbin’s don’t come along every day. He worked hard. He coached hard. He taught hard. His face has more wrinkles in it than when he started. He looks like a leathery old cuss. His handshake is still firm.

Now he gets to ride off into the sunset, holding the hand of the bride he wed 35 years ago and enjoy the twilight.

You wonder how many young men’s lives he changed, or shaped over the last three decades.

And Jeff Durbin answers the same way leaving as when he arrived.

“A lot of people deserve credit for it beyond me,” Durbin said.

He found his place in the world. He farmed it. He cultivated it.

Stark County is better off because of it, too.

Jeff Durbin resigns after 23 years as Lake coach

By Todd Porter Canton Rep

lake.jeff-durbinLAKE TWP.  One of the longest tenured high school head football coaches in Stark County is stepping down. Jeff Durbin, who retired three years ago as a Lake Local Schools administrator, has coached his final game for the Blue Streaks.

“My 27 years as an employee at Lake Local have provided an extraordinary experience for me and my family,” Durbin said in a statement released this morning. “I have enjoyed an unwavering support of the administration, faculty and staff at Lake High School and Lake Middle School as I have persued my greatest passion as a football coach and educator.

“I am deeply indebted to the many assistant coaches who have been instrumental to the success of Lake football. I have been privileged to work with many of the finest young men our society has to offer, and I only hope that I have had as positive an impact on their lives as they have had on mine.”

In Durbin’s 23 years, the Blue Streaks played for three state championships, won five regional titles and won the Federal League four times while being the league’s smallest school. Lake made the postseason in 14 of Durbin’s 23 seasons.

He was 163-98.

“Jeff was the textbook model for how a school-based interscholastic head coach should perform on and off the playing field every day with every one of his students,” Lake athletics director Bruce Brown said. “I’ve told many others that even if Jeff was coaching tidily-winks as a sport, I would want my child to play for him. The lessons and relationships that he developed with all of those who were touched by his program and his efforts are reflective of his passion as an educator.”

Lake’s administration is in the process of determining a timeline and succession plan to fill Durbin’s position in the next few weeks.

Storms bring threat of minor flooding to Stark County

minorFloodThe National Weather Service in Cleveland has issued a flood warning for Stark, Wayne and Holmes counties.

The Nimishillen Creek near North Industry was named on the weather service website as an area where the status of minor severity has been upgraded to moderate.

The flood warning was issued about 7 a.m. when the creek reached 9.5 feet, according to the weather services river readings at water.weather.gov. Flood stage is 8 feet.

The river was expected to fall below flood stage by late morning, but at 9 feet low-lying portions of Cheyenne Street, southeast Sparta Avenue and Allenford Avenue were threatened, the weather service said.

The Tuscarawas River at Massillon was at 8.3 feet about 8 a.m. and expected to crest at 10.4, the website said. The flood stage there is 14 feet.

The weather service listed a 60 percent chance of heavy rain for the Stark County area Thursday increasing to an 80 percent chance Thursday night.

The weather service said showers and thunderstorms were likely “mainly after 2 p.m.” with storms producing heavy rain that could leave the area with up to a half inch of precipitation.

Rain remained in the forecast through Saturday, the weather service said.

Forecasters expected the temperature to reach 71 degrees Thursday before falling Thursday night to 49 degrees and increasing only to 54 on Friday, the weather service said.

At 8 a.m., the temperature at the Akron Canton Airport was listed at 49 degrees under foggy skies with winds out of the east at 6 mph.

Summit County Communities receive $414,549 in recycling grants

By Bob Downing Beacon Journal staff writer

recycleSummit County communities on Tuesday received more than $400,000 in recycling grants from ReWorks.

The money may be used for recycling equipment or educational and promotional materials, said Yolanda Walker, executive director of the agency that is officially known as the Summit-Akron Solid Waste Management Authority.

Akron, with the largest population, got the biggest grant: $164,930.

Cuyahoga Falls was second, receiving $40,172, followed by Stow, at $27,352.

Peninsula, the smallest of the 31 communities, got the smallest grant: $532.18.

Other grants and their amounts were: Barberton, $21,760; Bath Township, $8,029; Boston Heights, $948; Boston Township, 1,061; Clinton, $1,117; Copley Township, $10,112; Coventry Township, $8,741; and Fairlawn, $4,933.

Also, Green, $18,635; Hudson, $18,333; Lakemore, $2,015; Macedonia, $8,069; Mogadore, $786; Munroe Falls, $4,236; New Franklin, $11,875; Northfield Center Township, $4,002; Northfield village, $2,949; and Norton, $8,721.

Reminderville, $1,933; Richfield Township, $1,934; Richfield village, $2,815; Sagamore Hills Township, $4,912; Silver Lake, $2,535; Springfield Township, $7,026; Tallmadge, $8,495; Twinsburg city, $13,747; and Twinsburg Township, $1,829.

The grants are determined by a complicated formula that includes population, local recycling programs and levels of recycling.

In other news, the agency’s governing board learned that Texas-based Waste Management has acquired Greenstar Recycling LLC and its recycling facility in South Akron.

The $7 million facility opened last June and handles recyclables from the city of Akron and other communities.

Waste Management is the largest trash-hauling firm in North America.

Steubenville, Ohio: Portrait of a rust belt city

By Phyllis Scherrer and Samuel Davidson

Steubenville's once thriving downtown is mostly deserted nowSteubenville, Ohio recently gained notoriety because of a tragedy last August that resulted in the conviction of two teenage boys, players on the local high school football team, for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. The trial was held in an inflamed atmosphere, with the town’s population and the football team in particular painted as aiders and abettors of rape.

 Steubenville’s once thriving downtown is mostly deserted now

Various liberal and pseudo-left organizations, along with affluent feminists, have joined the fray, blaming a so-called “rape culture” for the episode and ignoring the desperate social conditions that help give rise to backwardness and violent behavior, especially among young people. In this way, the upper middle class left lets the American corporate elite off the hook.

Steubenville is a small former steel town located on the west bank of the Ohio River, about 40 miles from Pittsburgh. The latter is often cited as an example of a city that has rebuilt itself after industrial collapse. This is hardly the full picture, since most of the new jobs in health care and the service industry are lower paid and offer fewer benefits than previously. Even these, however, are not available in Steubenville and numerous other towns in the region, such as Uniontown and McKeesport, Pennsylvania and Weirton and Wheeling, West Virginia.

Steubenville was once a thriving community, one of many located along a 30-mile stretch of the Ohio River from Weirton in the north to Wheeling in the south. Towns such as Mingo Junction, Yorkville and Martins Ferry, Ohio and Follansbee, Wellsburg and Warwood, West Virginia all had operations that were part of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. Weirton had the Weirton Steel Corporation, which employed 12,000 workers at its peak.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh’s now-closed blast furanceis slated to be torn down for riverfront development

Steelmaking began as early as 1817 in Steubenville (the birthplace in 1814 of Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton). According to a history of Wheeling-Pittsburgh, the company’s roots “go back to the middle of the last century when Wheeling, West Virginia, which lies on the banks of the Ohio River, was the center of a flourishing nail manufacturing industry. In 1851, LaBelle Iron Works was established and soon became a leading nail factory. By the end of the Civil War, the nail market had begun a serious decline, and LaBelle began searching for new products to manufacture, eventually entering into the creation of steel sheets, tin plates, and galvanized roofing. This expansion was propelled by LaBelle’s purchase of a three-year-old nail factory in Steubenville, Ohio, and their installation of two blast furnaces at the plant. Eventually, the Steubenville plant became the site for open-hearth steelwork, plate mills, sheet mills, and tube works.”

From 1875 to 1920 the US steel industry experienced explosive growth, making it a world leader, as production expanded from 380,000 to 60 million tons annually. The industry’s average annual growth rate over this period was a remarkable seven percent.

Iron ore was shipped by barge and rail through the Great Lakes region from the iron ranges in the northern Midwest. Steel mills in the Steubenville area employed tens of thousands of workers. Thousands of others went underground in the mines that dotted the hills to the east, south and west to dig out coal that ultimately powered the blast furnaces.

Once the nation’s eighth largest steel producer, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel (the product of a merger in 1968) went through a series of bankruptcies and reorganizations in which its facilities were closed down piece by piece, job by job. Retired workers have seen their pensions devastated. All that remains are about 200 workers at the Follansbee coke works, now run by Mountain State Carbon. The Steubenville mill was finally closed in 2005.

One of Steubenville’s many murals idealizing its steelmaking past

Weirton Steel’s massive works once produced primary cans and other tin products. In 1983, the mill—then owned by National Steel—was purchased as part of the world’s largest Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which turned out to be another trick to fleece the workers.

Weirton workers were granted worthless stock and forced to take pay and benefit cuts of 32 percent one year and 20 percent another—and still the mill was gradually shut down. Today there are fewer than 1,200 people employed at the Weirton operation. Driving to Steubenville from Pittsburgh along Route 22, one sees the portion of the mill that has been torn down and turned into scrap, awaiting rail cars to carry it off to be sold and melted down.

 Sections of the former Weirton Steel Mill have been torn down and scrapped

Almost all the mills and mines in the area have shut down, many in the 1970s and 1980s. Steel company executives and large shareholders walked away with millions of dollars, but the ruthless process destroyed entire communities, created widespread social misery and left little hope for young people in the area.

The industrial collapse led to Steubenville’s sharp decline. Its population peaked in the 1940s at nearly 40,000, but had already fallen to 31,000 by 1970. The fall since then has been truly precipitous. Steubenville lost a higher percentage of its population between 1980 and 2000 than any other urban area in America. The censuses of 1980, 1990 and 2000 showed drops of 14, 16 and 14 percent in population, respectively. Today the population of Steubenville is just over 17,000.

Weirton, West Virginia, where the victimized 16-year-old girl comes from, saw a similar decline, losing 30 percent of its population from 1960 to the present. Weirton now has fewer than 20,000 people. The neighboring towns along the Ohio River have all experienced population loss and social decay.

The blame for the disastrous poverty, high levels of illiteracy, alcoholism and drug use and the existence of social backwardness lies squarely with the American corporate-financial aristocracy. Tragedies such as the sexual assault last August, along with other forms of anti-social behavior, are the almost inevitable product of the bleak and desperate circumstances.

WSWS reporters recently spoke to Steubenville, Ohio residents about conditions in the decaying town.

Jean has lived in Steubenville all her life. She described how the city was once nicknamed “little Chicago” because of its steel industry and how busy the downtown area was when she was young.

“I remember when the mills were working, this was a very lively place. There were two movie theaters downtown, the Paramount and the Grand. Me and my friends were able to go to the shows, nobody was afraid to walk around at any time day or night. Now everything is going downhill. You can’t find any work. I clean churches, but you don’t make enough to live well. Things have changed and everyone is moving out of the city. Now there is so much drugs and crime.”

 Steubenville High School

Chenetta George explained that she had to go out of Ohio and get a job at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, a 45-minute drive from Steubenville. “We definitely need more jobs. Both my grandfather and my mother worked at Weirton Steel. My grandfather got a pension. I think my mom just lost everything.

“I graduated in 2009, and moved right away to North Carolina to be with my husband who was in the Marines and stationed there. Things didn’t work out, so I moved back here in 2010. I looked for work. I got hired through a home health care agency in Wheeling, West Virginia. At one point I was working at the Embassy Suites, as a home health care aide and as a telemarketer all at the same time. Now I’m going to school for criminal justice.”

 A street in residential Steubenville

Rhonda, who was also born and raised in Steubenville, explained that she had to join the military because there were no jobs. Now she is out and “the job situation is very bad; there is nothing for people to do. Most families are on government assistance and that is no way to live. They claim that the oil industry is going to create all these jobs. They call people to come get training, but when they show up, they find out that they have to pay for it. It is just another trick to get people to spend their money.

“You should provide training to the young people, if you want them to have jobs and a future, not force them to pay for it.

“There used to be plenty of jobs around here. When the mills were working, even if you didn’t work in the mill, they created jobs in the shops and restaurants. You look at the downtown now and it is just deserted.”

While the downfall of the steel and mining industries played a major role in the growth of poverty and declining living standards, the area was also hard hit by the recession in 2008, from which it has not recovered. The official unemployment rate in the Steubenville area had shot up from 6 percent to 14 percent by January 2010. Today it has fallen to 10.4 percent, but it is still 3.4 percentage points above the rate for the rest of Ohio.

The slump has meant a big growth in poverty and hunger. Steubenville’s median household income for 2011 was $33,000, well below the state and national median of $48,000 and $52,700, respectively. The city’s official poverty rate is over 27 percent compared to 14 percent for Ohio. Over the past three years, the real income of households in Ohio has fallen by over 8 percent. While the numbers for Steubenville alone are not available, they presumably match or surpass that figure.

Large numbers of Ohio residents face food insecurity. Nearly 1.7 million people in the state receive food stamps, which average only $138 per person per month. Many parents routinely have to choose between paying utility bills, rent or mortgage, purchasing medicine or buying food for their families.

 Mary Jackson and her 16-year-old nephew. Mary has been unemployed for almost a year and her husband for several months while she struggles to house and feed her family.

Steubenville’s Mary Jackson told us, “I think the whole society sucks. I can’t find a job anywhere. I have five kids that I have to care for. I have been off of work for nearly a year. I worked in a fast food restaurant, but I was told I had to leave when my husband who also worked there was promoted to management. That was a lie because even though he was called management, they treated him horribly. He was laid off about five months later and I went back to reapply for work, but they wouldn’t hire me.

“It has been very hard, but while he had unemployment benefits we were able to get by, but when they ran out, we were homeless for a while, moving from one house to another until we were able to get into the projects, but that has been hard too.”

Mary’s children range in age from six to thirteen. “My husband has been looking for work, but can’t find anything. I don’t think there is much of a future for young people. If my husband and I are unable to find work, what are things going to be like for younger people? We just live from day to day, which is sad, because you shouldn’t have to do that. The politicians don’t care about the poor, they just care for the rich.”

Many residents spoke about the pervasive social problems, such as drugs, prostitution and crime, that afflict every community where poverty is high and opportunities are few.

 Ashley Greathouse with neighbor’s children

Ashley Greathouse, 27, with three children, told the WSWS: “They need to change a lot in this town. They need to clean the streets. I just saw a dozen needles on the ground down the street. There are killings and drugs. It used to be nice. Now there are so many homeless.

“I came here from Cleveland after the tenth grade. I did my share of garbage. Now it’s been four years and nine months that I have been clean from using crack. I haven’t touched drugs since my second child on June 26, 2008.

“There was a double homicide here recently. A 16-year-old killed two people over $30. $30! It was right here on Market Street. We knew the victims—Ryan, who was in his twenties, and had a baby on the way, and Artavius who was 18 or 19, and he’d just had a baby girl.

“I always said that the only things to do in Steubenville are what the girls and the guys do. The girls do sex and the guys do drugs. I’ve been trying to get a job and I cannot get one since I was plastered all over the TV in 2008 after I was arrested as part of a prostitution sting. So, even though I’m clean for four and a half years, and my kids are everything to me, I can’t get a job.”

A number of Steubenville residents also alleged that some of the youths involved in the 2012 sexual assault case may have been shielded by the police and prosecution, pointing out that teenagers with parents who had connections were not prosecuted while a poor black and white kid were.

Several interviewees pointed to the corruption in Steubenville and Jefferson County, and abuses committed by police.

Referring to the sexual assault case, one resident asserted, “If my two kids were involved, I would be thrown under the jail. In Steubenville, we have had the same sheriff and the same mayor for as long as I can remember, and that’s about 18 years. They run and nobody runs against them. I believe this is a very corrupt county. Ohio has 48 counties. The saying goes that there are 47 counties in Ohio … and then there’s Jefferson County.”

The local police department has a long history of targeting minorities and working class residents with arrests and harassment. In 1997 Steubenville became the second city in the country to sign a consent decree with the federal government providing for the reorganization of the police force after a US Justice Department investigation found that it regularly used “excessive force, false arrests, charges and reports.” The Justice Department also found that Steubenville cops used threats and force against people who witnessed police abuse to intimidate them into not speaking out.

CNN noted in 1999, “Over a period of about 20 years, the city lost or settled 48 civil rights suits involving its police. In those cases, which often involved minorities, the city paid out more than $800,000—$400,000 between 1990 and 1996. At one point, the police department’s insurance policy was canceled.”

All in all, Steubenville presents a picture of corporate plundering, official violence and social devastation. Those who ignore this history and these conditions when examining the wider implications of the August 2012 sexual assault case are operating as apologists for the existing social order and facilitating its further oppression and exploitation.